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Sony AI Drives Race Car Like a Champ

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Cars racing in the Gran Turismo game.

A Gran Turismo ace must balance pushing a virtual car to its limits and wrestling with friction, aerodynamics, and precise driving lines with the subtle dance of trying to overtake an opponent without unfairly blocking their line and incurring a penalty.

Credit: Clive Rose/Gran Turismo/Getty Images

Researchers at Sony and Polyphony Digital say their GT Sophy is the first artificial intelligence (AI) able to beat professional esports players in the motorsport game Gran Turismo.

While AI has mastered board games like chess or Go, mastering video games like Gran Turismo requires high-speed reflexes and the ability to make continuous judgments.

Stanford University's Chris Gerdes said, "Outracing human drivers so skillfully in a head-to-head competition represents a landmark achievement for AI."

Gerdes said the techniques used to develop GT Sophy, which mastered Gran Turismo through hours of practice, could be applied to the development of autonomous cars.

However, University of Massachusetts Amherst's Bruno Castro da Silva said it is difficult to guarantee the safety and reliability of reinforcement learning algorithms like GT Sophy in the real world.

Said da Silva, "A lack of safety guarantees is one of the main reasons why machine learning-based robots are not yet widely used in factories and warehouses."

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